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Tekla’s precise coordination was music to the ears on Olympia Music Hall project

Screenshot of Olympia Music Hall in Tekla software, from their Tekla Awards entry in 2023

An exciting two-storey music venue constructed as part of the larger Olympia project, the Olympia West Music Hall is being built over the existing West Exhibition Hall. With precise coordination between the new and existing structure a critical concern, BIM and Trimble hardware provided BHC with the accuracy and level of detail required.

The Olympia West Music Hall is an exciting new live music venue being constructed above Olympia London’s existing west exhibition hall, as part of an ongoing £1.3 redevelopment project. With 4,400 seats, once completed it will be the largest entertainment venue of its kind in west London.

As part of the project, delivered by Laing O’Rourke, the main exhibition centre’s roof was replaced with a new floor in order to support the new two-storey music venue above. The Level Two floor was made up of long span trusses, due to the requirement for minimal columns within the exhibition space below.

BHC Ltd, the structural steelwork contractor, was responsible for delivering the structural steelwork (including supply and assembly) and connection design, as well as the edge protection and precast planks and slabs for the floor decking. Understandably, a key challenge on the project was how to correctly coordinate the new structure with the existing building and exhibition centre.

Photograph of SX10 on site at Olympia Music Hall project

Speaking about the project, Colin Stewart, Senior Technical Manager at BHC said: We were presented with an obvious challenge, mainly how to work within the constraints of an existing site footprint. Of course, this automatically restricts you in terms of what you can and cannot do. Our use of the Trimble SX10, the scanning total station, was essential here. Through the use of point cloud surveys, we were able to ensure all the new structural columns were positioned correctly, aligning perfectly with the existing columns below in order to safely transfer the loads. Strengthening works also had to be carried out at the base of the retained columns, due to the increased loads that they would be carrying.

The exhibition hall and our point cloud data dictated everything we did on site – we had to design around the existing structure even if it wasn’t the usual typical way of doing something. For example, there were three main box columns that added a different layer of complexity to the project. These three columns had to be stretched all the way up to the roof and yet were not parallel with the grid of the new music hall, instead having to follow the grid of the structure below. In a 3D model and using the digital tools we had available, we were able to get away with this level of complexity.

One big benefit of Tekla Structures when it comes to carrying out these surveys is the ability to determine and set the global coordinates. This means that when you pull in the survey data from the Trimble SX10, everything aligns automatically - you don’t have to spend a lot of time manually coordinating and matching it up. It’s the same when you output it, making it a lot easier for the survey team out on site. Overall, it all helps to smooth and streamline the process.

screenshots of trusses with tension-controlled bolts (TCBs) to mitigate vibration, created in Tekla Structures for the Olympia Music Hall project

Another challenge on the project was addressing the vibration concerns, giving the building’s function as an entertainment and live music venue. As a result, heavy trusses with significant welds and tension-controlled bolts (TCB’s) were required to mitigate these effects.

Colin continued: While the consulting engineers were responsible for the vibration analysis on the project, it was also a key consideration for us as steel detailers, having to detail the TCBs within the model. Fortunately, we were able to use design tools to bring the TCB bolts and shear wrenches into the Tekla software, enabling us to model them to the level of detail required, carry out the necessary checks and ensure everything would fit on site. These checks varied from reviewing the geometry, to ensuring the site team would actually be able to physically fit into the space with the apparatus and tools required to fit the bolts themselves.

The project remains ongoing and we are currently in the process of installing the steelwork for the tiered seating – a challenging process given the fact that we are essentially retrofitting them to a completed, roofed structure. This means we can no longer rely on crane access to lift and install the steelwork, instead having to manually transport the fabricated steel inside. As a result, being able to automatically generate detailed information on each component, including the weight of assemblies, directly from the Tekla model is invaluable.

Screenshot of full Olympia Music Hall model in Tekla Structures

The Olympia West Music Hall is on track to be completed by 2024. BHC’s work on the development saw the team win ‘Sports & Recreation Project’ in the UK Tekla Awards 2023, with the judges praising BHC for their flawless fabrication and coordination on a complex geometry project.

Here at BHC, we are delighted to be involved and have received an award for the UK Tekla Awards 2023. It is great to get recognition for the hard work of our team which make everything we do possible especially from Tekla that plays such an important role through many of our processes.

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